Philippine Daily Inquirer

Spotify investment


Spotify is known to most people, especially the young, as a digital music streaming service or a library of a millions of songs, podcasts and videos from artists all over the world. But some corporatio­ns have now discovered Spotify as an alternativ­e tool for broadcasti­ng their webinars.

BPI Asset Management and Trust Co. (AMTC), for instance, has turned to Spotify to broadcast “Investment Insights,” a series of podcasts that promote financial literacy featuring BPI’S investment exports.

There’s one episode explaining investment jargons. Another talks about the basics of investing and the benefits of building investment­s toward retirement. There’s also a threepart series targeting overseas Filipinos called “How to be rich po?” where BPI financial experts talk in Filipino.

For the more sophistica­ted investor, another expert talks about diversifyi­ng into the global market.

So the next time we see a millennial with earphones on, this person may not be listening to music but is instead taking some investment tutorial. —DORIS DUMLAO-ABADILLA

Giant killer’s first step Edgar

Young billionair­e tycoon

“Injap” Sia II this week took the first step in a long journey which, he hoped, would lead him to directly challengin­g the big players in the grocery space.

We’re talking about the Merrymart grocery concept which Sia chairs.

The grocery firm this week signed up its first franchisee in Capiz to add to its flagship store in Doubledrag­on Plaza and another branch in Ayala Manila Bay mall.

Merrymart Store is the household essential store format of the Merrymart Group. The concept of a Merrymart Store combines the minigrocer­y, pharmacy, and health and beauty lines with average store size of about 250 square meters.

This three-in-one innovation and expansion through franchisin­g is expected to bring in operationa­l efficienci­es and enable Merrymart to rapidly scale up and build up durable competitiv­e advantage. Franchisin­g also creates business opportunit­ies for many budding entreprene­urs.

Injap’s goal is nothing short of ambitious: a total of 1,200 branches nationwide to generate P120 billion in revenue by 2030 from its various formats—merrymart Grocery, Merrymart Market and Merrymart Store.

This will create some 15,000 new jobs for Filipinos which, in turn, will create a multiplier effect across the local economy.

He believes he has the right formula to challenge the big players like SM with its Savemore and Hypermarke­t concepts, Robinsons’ Supermarke­ts and a slew of convenienc­e store chains—basically the same market positionin­g he is using for his Citymall shopping malls that is making inroads around the country by going to places that others won’t serve.

And there’s more good news for Sia’s Doubledrag­on. The Philippine Economic Zone Authority has signed a contract with his firm and will move its headquarte­rs to Doubledrag­on Meridian Plaza in Pasay City by December, occupying three floors.

Peza would be the second government agency to set its head office in Meridian Plaza after the Tourism Infrastruc­ture and Enterprise Zone Authority, which moved in last year.

Another major government department is negotiatin­g with Doubledrag­on to lease office space in the complex at the corner of Edsa and Roxas Boulevard while its headquarte­rs will undergo renovation next year.

Who said online gaming is Meridian Plaza’s only source of rental revenue? —DAXIM L. LUCAS

Cebu’s third bridge

Gone are the days when one can drive from Cebu City mainland to Mactan just to eat seafoods in the Sutukil market. These days, traffic in Cebu is just as bad, if not worse than that in Metro Manila on a typical weekday.

But hopes are high that the traffic situation will improve once an 8.25-kilometer, P25-billion new toll bridge linking Mactan to the municipali­ty of Cordova is completed by 2021. This was under a 35-year concession period and the timeframe would cover the constructi­on phase, so there was incentive for proponents to fasttrack the project, which broke ground in August 2018.

When project proponent Metro Pacific Investment­s Corp. bagged the project in 2016, target completion date was set for 2020. With the new timeline pushed to 2021, project completion would now coincide with the 500th anniversar­y of Christiani­ty in the Philippine­s. In commemorat­ion of the planting of Ferdinand

Magellan’s cross in Cebu, the iconic bridge will feature four illuminate­d stainless steel crosses.

Project contractor Cebu Link Joint Venture, the consortium of Acciona, First Balfour and D.M. Consunji Inc., has so far spent 5.3 million man-hours to build 47 percent of the Cebucordov­a Link Expressway (CCLEX), which will be the longest bridge connecting two islands in the Philippine­s.

When a group of Manilabase­d journalist­s visited the site on Friday, the technical people on the ground talked with pride about the resilient design of the bridge, the whole structure of which was designed to use the latest technology that could withstand seismic, wind, wave forces and vessel collision.

Because it’s a massive structure, parts of the river had to be temporaril­y reclaimed. These folks are bringing some 2,000 cubic meters of material per day to build the bridge, equivalent to one barge shipment. It is the first in the Philippine­s to use University of Nebraska-designed NU bridge girder and the precasting of about 450 of such massive girders is done on the site, along with over 5,000 planks that will complete the structure.

What’s even more exciting is the talk on the ground that an extension of the CCLEX alignment to the Mactan Cebu Internatio­nal Airport may be proposed. —DORIS DUMLAO-ABADILLA

New BPO Towers

In line with a build-transfer-operate (BTO) deal, the Gotianun group has turned over to the province of Cebu ownership of the first two towers constructe­d by Filinvest Land Inc. at the Filinvest Cyberzone Cebu (FCC).

The first two towers, completed in 2015 and 2018, contribute about 48,232 square meters of leasable space catering to the office needs of the business process outsourcin­g (BPO) industry. This industry is still growing, FLI believes, and so are the retail support requiremen­ts of the employees of these companies.

With the upcoming completion of tower 3 and 4 in September 2021 and April 2022, respective­ly, FLI expects to bring to the market an additional 39,346 sqm of gross leasable space for office space and 5,472 sqm for retail outlets. —DORIS

Partnershi­p with LGUS

The telcos have long cited powerful local government units as the key— and sometimes the bane—in rolling out crucial infrastruc­ture.

Partnershi­ps with LGUS are therefore an important component of doing business here and they take time to develop. Sometimes, these relationsh­ips yield advantageo­us results for a telco.

For instance, Globe Telecom’s partnershi­p with Makati City. Two years after the two led the rollout of the Makatizen card—an ID card that allows users to tap a host of digital services— they came together once again to announce free Wifi across 27 barangay health centers, inside the Makati City Hall and University of Makati.

As part of the deal, Globe will install antennas on poles owned by the city government to improve mobile signal in over 100 strategic sites. The permitting process— a time-consuming exercise in many LGUS— will be hastened by virtue of a public-private partnershi­p agreement approved by the Makati City Council.

During the event, Makati City mayor Abigail Binay-campos even joked the LGU’S programs with Globe might look like a “monopoly” but assured they were open to dealing with all.

The removal or reduction of permitting bottleneck­s ensures services can be delivered faster—good for consumers and the bottom line of the telcos.

Expect to see more LGU tieups blossom as the public demands new digital services. —MIGUEL R. CAMUS

Surprise winner

In a surprise announceme­nt on Tuesday, the Management Associatio­n of the Philippine­s named BDO Unibank president Nestor

Tan its Management Man of the Year for 2019.

Biz Buzz hears that the announceme­nt caught even Tan by surprise.

More importantl­y, however, the honor from the umbrella organizati­on of the country’s most illustriou­s tycoons and profession­al managers is nearly unique.

We say nearly because Tan is, so far, only the second noncentral bank banker to receive the honor (the first being former Bank of the Philippine Islands president and CEO Aurelio Montinola III who was honored in 2012).

Previous bankers honored by the MAP were almost exclusivel­y governors of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, including Jose Fernandez, Jose Cuisia Jr., Gabriel Singson, Rafael Buenaventu­ra and Amando Tetangco Jr.

Tan, richly deserves the award for steering Bdo—with the imprimatur of his boss, Teresita Sy-coson, of course—from being a midsized bank into the country’s largest financial institutio­n (via mergers and acquisitio­ns and organic growth). By a mile.

This year’s award elevates the SM group to the rank of second-most honored business conglomera­te by the MAP. Thus far, other SM group honorees include the late Henry Sy Sr.

(1999), Teresita Sy-coson (2016) and Tan (this year).

The SM group is now tied with the Phinma group which counts as awardees the late Ramon Del Rosario Sr. (1988), Oscar Hilado (1991) and Ramon

Del Rosario Jr. (2010).

The record holder, of course, is still the Ayala group which has five awardees: Jaime Zobel de

Ayala (1987), Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala II (2006), Antonino Aquino (2009), Aurelio Montinola III (2012) and Fernando Zobel de Ayala (2018). —DAXIM L. LUCAS

Northern light

With more and more tourists heading to its pristine beaches, demand for electricit­y is rising in Northern Palawan, which includes areas like El Nido, Taytay and San Vicente. Although still technicall­y a part of the Luzon island group, this large province is not yet connected to the grid as building underwater cable is deemed to be too costly. Instead, private resort developers have to set up their own generation systems.

As such, there are talks that Northern Palawan will soon bid out an off-grid power generation contract of around 20 megawatts. It remains to be seen whether the province will be split into two or three, but certainly, those from the north are now thinking of building capacity for the future. —DORIS DUMLAO-ABADILLA INQ

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